Midge Swarms Have Small Starts

To most, a cloud of midges is a plague to be avoided. But for researchers studying complex systems at Yale University, it’s an experiment. Using high-speed cameras, the scientists filmed individual flies’ trajectories. What they found, published this week in the _Journal of the Royal Society Interface, _is that midges start to organize into a swarm with just 10 individuals. Studies like this one, which defines swarm behavior by a decreased distance between individuals, reveal that collective group movements are much more complex than scientists thought before.

Boy Gets New Ears From His Own Ribs

Nine-year-old Kieran Sorkin was having trouble making friends at school. “I want people to stop asking me questions,” he told the BBC. Other students kept asking him about his ears, which were deformed due to a congenital condition called microtia. So a surgical team in London removed cartilage from his ribs and used it to fashion new ears for him. Although Sorkin still needs hearing aids, the psychological impacts of the operation can be huge, giving him more confidence for the rest of his life.

The Value Of A Metal-Filled Heart

The center of your body’s circulatory system, the heart can be a confusing intersection of arteries and blood vessels. In order to better see some of the tiniest blood vessels, researchers at Beijing University tried an unorthodox method: filling the blood vessels with liquid metal, then taking x-rays of the heart. Because the metal, gallium, freezes at 84 degrees Fahrenheit and is believed to be nontoxic, it can be used in living tissue. These, though, are images of pigs’ hearts. The one on the left has the metal in it, and the one on the right uses standard iodine.

Two-Headed Dolphin Mystifies Scientists

On the Aegean coast near Izmir, Turkey, a few beach-goers were treated to a startling, uncommon sight on Monday: a two-headed dolphin calf washed up on shore. The dolphin is 3.2 feet long and about a year old, although the species is still unknown. Researchers have taken it to a nearby lab to analyze the specimen.

Google Street View Takes On The Sea

Most of us know that Google Street View really handy for scoping out your new neighborhood or catching questionable acts. But Google is now teaming up with researcers at the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration to bring the 360-degree imaging technology to underwater ecosystems in the Florida Keys. The images will help researchers study the effects of warming on the delicate coral ecosystems, and also be awesome for those of us taking an underwater glimpse by surfing the web.

California Mountain Lions Are Trapped And Getting Desperate

California is home to several notorious predators, including coyotes and bobcats. But the mountain lion is perhaps the most beautiful, and fearsome. But this population of 8 to 10-month-old kittens isn’t stalking prey on cliff sides; these lions reside in Malibu Creek State Park, separated from Los Angeles by the Route 101 highway. It’s isolated the population, and things are getting weird: many of the individuals have genetic anomalies as a result of inbreeding, and some have even started eating their relatives. This is an image of a mother of two cubs, photographed by a remote camera.

Erbil Excavations Are Monumental

With a population of 1.5 million, Erbil is the booming capital of Iraq’s Kurdistan region. At its center is a 100-foot-high citadel thought to be the longest continuously inhabited place on Earth. The city was a religious site, mentioned in texts dating back to 2300 BC. Earlier this year, new excavations began on a little-studied slope of the citadel, revealing tombs and other artifacts that have made archaeologists believe that the site is even older than previously thought. This is a clay cylinder, found at a nearby site, that describes how the temple at Erbil was made to “shine like the sun.”

Your 80s Sci-Fi Movies Come To Life… In Miniature

When toy company Super 7 sold out of its Alien _-themed toys at Comic Con, its new mission was clear. “We make stuff we wish we’d had,” Brian Flynn, Super 7’s owner and creator, told _Wired. New faux-vintage toys will feature characters from other 80s sci-fi classics, including Goonies, Back to the Future, and Firefly.

The World’s (New) Fastest Camera

Researchers at the University of Tokyo have developed what has become the world’s fastest camera, capturing 4.4 trillion frames per second — that’s 1,000 times faster than existing high-speed cameras. They call their technique “sequentially timed all-optical mapping photography,” or STAMP, which utilizes short bursts to capture images. Researchers will be able to use this imaging device to capture quick scientific processes like chemical reactions; the researchers photographed the conduction of heat, which occurs at speeds only one-sixth the speed of light.